This article focuses on coffee farming in Kenya. Coffee is a major cash crop in the country. Kenya produces about 40,000 metric tonnes of coffee, with a big percentage meant for export.
The main varieties of coffee grown in Kenya are Arabica and Robusta.
Major Coffee Growing Areas in Kenya
- Tharaka Nithi.
- Uasin Gishu.
Ecological Requirements for Growing Coffee
- Well drained fertile soil/ rich volcanic soil with a pH of about 5.3- 6.0.
- Altitude of over 3000m above sea level.
- Annual rainfall of 1500- 2000mm.
- Temperature of 15°c- 24°c.
- Proper aeration.
Propagation is through seeds which are raised in a nursery bed and then later transplanted.
The first step is to sow seeds in a nursery bed at a depth of 1 to 2cm. Once the seedlings bare the first leaves, transplant them into specially-made foil bags meant for planting.
Set the seedlings about 20cm apart in large beds with proper shade. After about 6 months when the seedlings are about 30cm tall, transplant them to the field or the prepared coffee plantation.
The recommended spacing at the plantation is 1.3m apart. The old varieties start producing after about 5 years while new varieties take 2-3 years to yield fruits.
Regular weeding needs to be done to avoid competition for nutrients and space. Some of the common weeds found in a coffee plantation include; blackjack, pigweed, Mexican marigold and wandering jew.
The weeds can be controlled by practising mulching and applying herbicides such as greenlife and catapult.
Market for Coffee in Kenya
Coffee from Kenya is the best in the world. This means there is a ready international market. You can sell your produce to coffee exporters located in the country.
You can also sell your produce to coffee shops or coffee roasting facilities located in different parts of the country.